Eliminate Toxic Materials from Minnesota’s Environment – Recycle!
Obsolete, broken, and unused technological equipment, including computers, smart phones and other handheld, portable and desktop equipment make up part of a serious problem for Minnesota. Along with a wide variety of consumer and business electronic equipment, they contain hazardous materials that can pollute the natural environment for centuries if not properly handled for disposal. Minnesota made it illegal in 2007 to dispose of computers and other high-tech items as trash or in the state’s landfills. Hazardous and toxic materials can leach out of them over time and find their way into our groundwater, rivers and lakes.
Once Minnesota’s law against improper disposal was passed, a statewide network of computer and technology recycling companies and organizations has grown to help consumers and businesses get rid of unwanted devices safely. On this website, our interactive maps and directories will help you find recycling facilities in your own neighborhood. Proper e-waste recycling will help prevent hazardous materials like the ones listed below from entering the environment:
- Mercury – From batteries, fluorescent lamps, and back-lighting of displays on a wide range of consumer and business technology, mercury is highly toxic, especially as it forms chemical compounds and is consumed by fish and other animals. Proper recycling removes and reclaims this material.
- Lead – The CRT display tubes in television sets and older computer monitors can contain up to 5 pounds of lead. Solder and lead in a wide range of batteries are also sources of pollution from electronic equipment. Lead can be reused after recycling and recovery.
- Cadmium – Many metals used in electronic equipment are plated with cadmium, and fluorescent materials for CRT tube screens also contain this toxic metal. Cadmium is also found in coatings, plastics, and other parts as a coloring material. Keeping cadmium out of our natural environment is important.
- Beryllium – This highly toxic material is found in small quantities in copper alloys used for electrical contact and springs. It also can be found in some laser printers. Proper recycling recovers those materials for reuse and keeps beryllium from polluting our water.
- Chromium – Chromium plating and its use as a component of stainless steel alloys are common sources of chromium in computers and electronic equipment. When dumped in landfills, it can change into hexavalent chromium (Cr VI) over time, posing serious health risk to humans and animals. Keeping this highly dangerous material out of the environment is an important function of recycling.
- Antimony – Present in some computer screens and used in cabling and some plastics, antimony presents health risks when improperly discarded. The recycling centers in our directory will handle your high-tech items safely.
- Brominated Flame Retardants – PBBs, PBDEs and other brominated fire retardants occur in circuit boards, cases, and elsewhere in electronic equipment. They improve the fire and heat resistance during manufacturing. Proper recycling by trained workers helps in preventing their release.
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – As one of the most common plastics, PVC is used everywhere in computers and other equipment. Used in cases, cable insulation, and other parts, it poses a risk if incinerated or burned, which can release deadly dioxins. Properly recycled, PVC can be reused to manufacture new parts.
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) – PCBs are seldom used in recently manufactured electronics equipment, and were banned for use in the United States in 1977. Still, they can be found in electronic equipment built before that time. Recycling old and obsolete equipment allows for safe disposal.
- Other Hazardous Sources – Batteries in electronic devices are an increasing source of hazardous materials. They can contain mercury, lead, lithium, nickel and a number of other chemical compounds that should not be released into the environment. When high-tech devices are recycled, their batteries are processed separately for environmental reasons.
Proper Electronics Disposal Keeps Minnesota’s Environment Safe
The goal of Minnesota’s 2007 law against dumping computers and other electronic equipment had one primary goal: to keep hazardous materials out of the state’s landfills where they could pollute our states groundwater, rivers and lakes. Recovering valuable materials through recycling was a secondary goal. We created our Minnesota Computer Recycling website to help Minnesota consumers and businesses find local facilities that accept electronic equipment, computers and other e-waste for proper disposal. We hope you’ll use our interactive maps and directories to find the resources you need in your own city and county. When these devices are properly handled, we all benefit in many ways.